John Collins is adamant there is still plenty more to come from the men’s quad scull boat after helping them win gold at the opening rowing World Cup regatta of the season – one of five British medals on Sunday in Belgrade.
Teaming up with Tom Barras, Jonny Walton and Graeme Thomas, Collins and co were narrowly trailing the Germany quartet for the majority of their final in Serbia but a scintillating sprint finish saw them overhaul their rivals and claim gold by just 0.27 seconds.
Norway took bronze behind the Germans and although the British boat are targeting improvements, Collins believes the fact they can still triumph at World Cup regattas when not at their very best bodes well for the future.
“That was a good race, we executed what we needed to do,” he explained. “It’s exciting as it is because there’s a lot more potential.
“We haven’t quite found our ten out of ten yet but there was some good competition.”
Great Britain finished fourth in the medal table behind the Netherlands, Germany and Czech Republic and although the quad were the only gold medallists, plenty of British rowers also climbed the podium.
The men’s and women’s eights both walked away with silver, as did Jack Beaumont and Angus Groom in the men’s double scull, while there was a hard-fought bronze for Ellie Piggott and Emily Craig in the women’s lightweight double scull.
In the men’s eight, Saturday’s test race had seen Germany beat Great Britain by the smallest of margins and the result was the same in Sunday’s final.
The Germans ultimately led from start to finish but the British eight of James Rudkin, Josh Bugajski, Tom Jeffery, Ollie Wynne-Griffith, Moe Sbihi, Alan Sinclair, Matthew Tarrant and Will Satch – coxed by Henry Fieldman – comfortably pulled past Romania in the final 500m to take silver and Rio 2016 Olympic champion Sbihi insists the signs are promising for the eight.
“This is a good start,” he said. “We’re a little bit disappointed in the performance but Germany are very experienced.
“This is a long-term project and we’ll come back stronger.”
The women’s eight of Anastasia Chitty, Rebecca Girling, Rowan McKellar, Hattie Taylor, Karen Bennett, Holly Norton, Fiona Gammond and Rebecca Shorten – coxed by Matilda Horn – finished almost four seconds behind winners the Netherlands but crossed the line comfortably ahead of China 1 to earn a silver medal..
Meanwhile, Piggott and Craig were in a four-way battle with the Netherlands, South Africa and France for the majority of the lightweight women’s double scull final and did enough to edge out the French boat by 0.32 seconds for bronze, behind the Dutch and South Africans.
Last week, sculler Beaumont spoke to teamgb.com about his rollercoaster three years that has seen him go from fearing he would never walk again to becoming an Olympian and competing for medals at the highest level.
And having now returned to the double scull from the quad, he believes the silver he and Groom collected in Belgrade on Sunday – where they finished less than a second behind winners Lithuania – proves they’re going in the right direction.
He said: “It was my first race in the double for four years, so to come away with second makes us really happy. We’re excited for the future.”
Photo credit: Naomi Baker